Cabaret Festival Review: Rhonda Burchmore, Vinyl Viagra

Dunstan Playhouse, Friday, June 6

Dunstan Playhouse, Friday, June 6

Those expecting the First Lady of Australian musical theatre Rhonda Burchmore to perform the show-tunes and standards she’s known for, may have been shaken by Vinyl Viagra. Swapping her old soft shoes for a new pair of stilettos, Burchmore becomes her after-midnight alter-ago ‘Ruda’ for a titillating trip through contemporary pop music. The show name-checks broads from Marlene Dietrich to Madonna as Rhonda/Ruda casts a cabaret spell on songs made (in)famous by the most vivacious vixens to lay down their voices on vinyl. A suitably raunchy rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar set the tone for the evening with Rhonda prowling the stage, flanked by two rippling boy-toy backing dancers. While treating modern pop chanteuses like Kylie and Miley to a showy makeover, Vinyl Viagra retains the hallmarks of an authentic cabaret outing. Replete with costume changes, tap routines and plenty of audience participation, Ruda gives the people what they want, plus a little extra on the side. Burchmore’s bawdy humour is contagious, with most punters in hysterics over her mischievous quips. Paying homage to the Bettes and Barbras before her, there’s something deliciously vaudevillian in her bold cocktail of comedy and sensuality. She glides between both realms with fluidity as she serenades her mirrored reflection in a downright fabulous fling with Divinyl’s I Touch Myself. ‘Ruda’ by name and nature. Subverting expectations again, she slows down for a torch song take on Wrecking Ball x Nothing Compares to You, ditching her wig but none of her dignity. A woman all too often defined by her looks – her fire-red hair and those legs that last to next week – she reveals how it feels to be a woman in her 50s, no longer looked at that way anymore. At once adventurous and relatable, Vinyl Viagra exposes more than the divine Ms B’s sultry sexuality. Her sharp sense of humour and first-class set of pipes really are rivalled by few others down under. Rating: ****

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.